Native Kayaks Pro Guide, Captain Dee Kaminski of Reel Kayak Fishing takes us along as she goes fishing for the prehistoric bowfin in the marshes of Florida.

Bowfin Fishing in Florida

A bony head and smooth, large scales armor the bowfin’s long and powerful body. Bowfin have a hard jaw full of sharp teeth. The fish are green, brown and yellow with an eye-spot on the tail.

Prehistoric Bowfin Facts

Mudfish, mud pike, dogfish, griddle, grinnel, cypress trout and choupique.


Eastern United States, Ontario and Quebec.


Lowland rivers, swamps, canals, backwaters and brackish water.

Weird Science

Bowfin are the only surviving member of an order that thrived 250 million years ago. The fish can breath underwater and on land. The bowfin’s head is protected by bony plates including two external plates beneath the jaw.


Southeast Florida on deep marsh channels and river edges. Bowfin feed day and night, but don’t fish for them after dark because of the threat of alligators.


Cast and retrieve 1/8-ounce jig and softplastic snake or worm through channels or along a drop. Buzz a 1/16-ounce weedless soft plastic through lily pads and grass-choked shallows.


Land with a net and hold with fish-grips. Use needle-nose pliers to remove hooks.

Strange bowfin encounters

The first time I caught a bowfin, I was fishing for largemouth bass in the Florida marshes with my good friend, Rod Salser. Rod had caught a bowfin in the same area earlier, so I copied his technique. I was working an area full of reeds and lily pads along a bank. I parked my kayak on some reeds and cast to the opposite bank. On the retrieve, a huge fish inhaled my Pro Snake. The fish made several hard runs before coming unhooked.

I cast back to the same spot and the fish attacked again. The fish ran straight at my kayak and buried itself in the reeds I was sitting on. I couldn’t pull the bowfin out of the vegetation. Rod reached in and removed the fish from the grass. The 26-inch fish turned me onto bowfin, they are unlike anything else that swims.

This article was first published in the Early Summer 2015 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Here’s a big Florida bowfin. | Feature photo: Captain Dee Kaminski



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